At this point, we all know that Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is currently leading the NFL in total tackles with 137, which is no great surprise given his track record as a tackle machine and one of the most highly regarded and respected defensive leaders in the league. The fact that Wagner has a realistic shot at eclipsing 200 tackles in the NFL’s first 17-game season is magnificently impressive, but again hardly surprising. Because we have learned to expect transcendence from #54, as is typically the case for Canton-bound veterans such as Seattle’s six-time All-Pro middle linebacker.
But partially obscured behind the larger-than-life shadow of Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks has quietly been putting together an auspicious season of his own.
To find a first round pick by Seattle that turned into a playmaker in the NFL, you have to go back to Bruce Irvin. But to find players who actually turned into decorated long-term starters, you have to go all the way back to the joint selections of Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. Now, before anybody gets a wild idea here, I am not suggesting that Jordyn Brooks is anywhere near as accomplished as either of these players at this point in his career; but in his short time as a professional, he has already done several things that have eluded other Seattle first round not mentioned above pick since 2010:
- He has started 18 of a possible 26 games, including all 12 games in 2021 thus far (Germain Ifedi started more games over his first two years, but I would argue that the quality of his performance was far lower than Brooks relative to their respective positions).
- He has missed two games due to injury (both last season) but has otherwise been active for every other game and has played in 83% of Seattle’s defensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference.
- He is top-5 in one of the major statistical categories for his position.
- He received the illustrious UPHOG nomination from John Fraley for his performance in Week 7.
I feel like the list above could go on for some time, as that is hardly an exhaustive report of his accomplishments in his young career, but it serves to show how low of a bar he has had to clear in order to surpass players such as Germain Ifedi, L.J. Collier, or James Carpenter. Of course, comparing players across positions is an apples-to-oranges kind of scenario that doesn’t allow for direct evaluation, but if anybody feels strongly that my assessment that Brooks is easily better than the three above mentioned players, go ahead and make your case in the comments.
The NFL in the ‘20s looks a lot different than the NFL did a decade ago; off-ball linebackers don’t carry the same positional value that they once did, and Jordyn Brooks has yet to demonstrate that he is a consistent coverage backer. Say what you will about Pro Football Focus, but I think that his scores seem to be in alignment with what I have seen from him on the field this year; he has been solid in run support, offered a few decent looks as a pass rusher, and generally struggled in coverage while offering a few encouraging moments, such as this highlight from Week 7:
Or this tasty play from an otherwise unappetizing loss a couple weeks ago.
Jordyn Brooks is having a night pic.twitter.com/e73xPXI0JS— hawkschronicle (@hawkschronicle) November 30, 2021
Or this one from Week 1, which still might be his finest pure moment of coverage so far.
Bela cobertura de Jordyn Brooks pic.twitter.com/RRuONRyb7B— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) September 12, 2021
As this bizarre and largely deflating season continues, I am making an effort to find rays of positivity in an otherwise unnerving football year. And Jordyn Brooks has certainly been one of them. While I will stop far short of anointing him the next Bobby Wagner (or even the next K.J. Wright), I think that he definitely deserves some recognition for his swift and measurable growth in year two. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of his development and we are on the precipice of witnessing another phenomenal career unfolding before our very eyes. Only time will tell, but I am looking forward to the continued evolution of the former Red Raider.